A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 20, 2004
Crack Is Wack
The artist Keith Haring died of AIDS on February 16, 1990, at age 31. His originally unauthorized 1986 "Crack Is Wack" mural at a playground on the FDR Drive and 128th Street still can be seen by passing motorists.

19 September 1986, New York Times, pg. B3:
$25 Fine Ordered
For "Crack Is Wack" Artist

It might be called artistic justice.

Keith Haring, creator of the "Crack is Wack" mural in East Harlem appeared yesterday afternoon in Criminal Court in Manhattan. He had been charged with defacing public property, The penalty for defacing is up to three months in prison and a $500 fine.

The 28-year-old artist from Greenwich Village painted the mural June 27th on the wall of a handball court at 128th Street and the Harlem River Driver. He did it, however, without authorization and was given a summons.

The mural was shown on television, praised by the Crack Foundation and, apparently, won the approval of the neighborhoood. It has remained free of graffiti,

2 October 1986, New York Times, pg. B5:
But when an unknown hand vandalized the mural last Thursday and changed it to read "Crack Is It," then he got really angry.
(...)
The persistent Mr. Haring said he would repaint his message on the original site, the wall of a handball court at 128th Street and the Harlem River Drive.

His repeat performance is set for tomorrow afternoon and this time he will do so not only with official authorization but with the Parks Commissioner's personal benediction.


Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • (0) Comments • Monday, December 20, 2004 • Permalink